Although California is known for its infamous traffic, assemblymembers gathered to have a roundtable discussion on the even bigger issue of California roads and infrastructure on Friday, Aug. 21.
California is the state with the second worst roads in the country. The city of Los Angeles leads the pack as 73 percent of the main roads are deteriorated. The discussion tackled all of these issues, while still looking for ways to fix them in the state that has more cars on the road than any other.
“This is a problem that we all share no matter where you go in southern Los Angeles, but our issues well beyond congestion,” said Assemblymember Richard Bloom. “It’s bridge maintenance and repairs. It’s increasing access to transit, which is one of the solutions. So we have a lot of work to do.”
One of the major issues is where and how to allocate resources. There is so much to work on and each road problem will only increase in price the longer it takes to fix it.
Some said that it is better to focus on local roads first since that’s how people get around their communities, while others said that it is more important to work on freeways because that’s how most goods are transported, which fuels the economy.
“This isn’t just about moving people, it’s also about moving goods so we have to take all of that into account when thinking of what to work on,” said Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell.
Since there aren’t enough funds to fix everything, often times the only streets that get fixed are ones that don’t have major issues. The amount it would cost to fix one street in poor condition could service multiple streets in good condition, but often times this causes the streets in poor condition to get worse.
“If I take one mile of an ‘F’ street and repair that road, 40 miles of a good street cannot be maintained and if a ‘B-‘ falls from good to fair, the cost goes from $250,000 to $400,000,” said Kevin James, president of the Los Angeles City Board of Public Works.
“That’s why it’s so important that we maintain the streets that we can, but the sad news is that we can’t touch the ‘D’ and ‘F’ streets. Hopefully this discussion brings a long-term solution.”
There were plenty of solutions thrown around, from increasing public transit, to building new roads, to working on fixing the roads and freeways that are already in place, but all of them require funding.
On the business end, one common solution was to have citizens vote on paying an extra tax which would provide jobs to hundreds to fix the roads.
“There could be an amazing amount of jobs that can come out of this and we need to do local hiring” said Assemblymember Reginald B. Jones-Sawyer, Sr.
“What I’m asking is if we are going to tax people, there should be a way to show them that we’re doing what we said we would do and actually repairing the roads.”
Fixing all of the roads now would cost $100 billion, but waiting 10 years could push the cost to $300 billion. The $100 billion could provide nearly 2 million jobs, but citizens would also have to agree to pay more taxes.
All of the problems couldn’t be solved in one day, but the roundtable sparked discussion on some issues that are rarely talked about. To join the discussion, visit www.asmdc.org.